Clayton Valley knew full well how high the stakes were for them entering Friday night’s game against Foothill. In their first year as a member of the East Bay Athletic League’s Mountain Division, the Ugly Eagles had started with a pair of losses, the first-ever losses in league play for Clayton Valley with Tim Murphy as head coach. Maybe more importantly, the Eagles were staring down the barrel of a finish to the season against Monte Vista and De La Salle, needing one more win to become post-season eligible.
With the pressure mounting, the Ugly Eagles took care of business and then some against Foothill, routing the Falcons 41-0 with the kind of statement win which likely puts them back in the driver’s seat for the top seed in the Division 2 playoff bracket.
“We are finally getting healthy after a brutal amount of injuries the first half of the season,” Murphy said. “We really feel like we are back from our slump now.”
Clayton Valley (5-3, 1-2) took an early lead when Rayshawn Jackson scored for a quick 7-0 lead, less than four minutes into the game. The Ugly Eagles added to the lead midway through the second quarter when Carson Sumter took a shovel pass from Jake Kern for a 14-yard score. But the biggest turning point came after Foothill (5-3, 1-2) put together its best drive to that point and had the ball inside the Clayton Valley 30-yard line.
With Falcons’ quarterback Bryce Lombardi throwing towards the end zone, Clayton Valley’s Ryan Sparks intercepted the ball at the five-yard line. Sparks then weaved towards the left sideline before finding daylight and breaking free for a 95-yard interception return, making the score 21-0. The Clayton Valley defense then forced a punt, which allowed Makhi Gervais to add one more touchdown run right before the half, effectively putting the game out of reach before the teams headed to the locker rooms.
“That pick was huge. Ryan had just gotten beat the play before, so it was big in two ways for him,” Murphy said. “Then our defense holding again and our offense punching one more in really let us know we were back to playing the way we are capable.”
An interception late in the third quarter from Lukas Linkhart set up another Gervais touchdown run, and Tyson Vida capped the scoring with his plunge to the end zone with less than a minute remaining in the game.
Clayton Valley hosts Monte Vista this coming Friday night, while Foothill has the task of rebounding at home against cross-town rival Amador Valley in a non-league game.
Amador Valley throttles Dublin
Eric Hunter III had another night to remember for Amador Valley, leading the Dons past Dublin in a big EBAL-Valley match-up on Friday night, 35-7.
Hunter ran for 192 yards on 15 carries, as Amador Valley (6-2, 4-0) asserted its dominance up front, rushing for 346 yards as a team in a statement victory.
Despite the strong effort on the ground, and the somewhat one-sided final score, the game was close early and was scoreless after one quarter. But Amador Valley went on a 65-yard drive spanning the end of the first quarter and early part of the second quarter, capped by a one-yard touchdown run from quarterback Kannon Dote.
Amador Valley then got great field position on its next drive when Jackson Ogolin recovered a Dublin at the Gaels’ 32-yard line, and the Dons capitalized as Dote hit Spencer Scranton for a 30-yard gain and then reached the end zone himself on a six-yard run for a 14-0 lead.
Dublin (5-4, 1-2) responded with an 81-yard scoring drive before the half, fueled by a trio of first-down runs from Nick Costello and a pass from Jack Sweeney to Adam Moore which took the Gaels inside the Amador Valley 10-yard line. Sweeney then hit Jayden Petrus for a four-yard touchdown pass to close the gap to 14-7, but Hunter was not done with his impact on the first half. The junior broke loose for a 64-yard scoring dash in the final seconds of the second quarter, giving Amador Valley a 21-7 lead at the break.
Hunter again sparked the Dons’ first drive of the second half, breaking loose for a 45-yard gain before Spencer Oxe finished the drive with a one-yard plunge into the end zone. Cole Bartolo capped the scoring with a one-yard run late in the third quarter.
“We dominated up front and Eric (Hunter) is obviously very good,” said Amador Valley coach Danny Jones. “We are also starting to get a few guys back here and there and hopefully getting healthy and playing our best football headed into our two biggest games of the year.”
Amador Valley heads to Foothill next week in a game that could be key for the Dons’ post-season seeding, even though it is a non-league contest. Dublin hosts Dougherty Valley in its annual rivalry game next week as well, in the final game of the regular season for the Gaels.
Freedom holds off Heritage for first win
Jordan Lee’s 13-yard touchdown run off right tackle late in the third quarter provided the final points of the night, allowing Freedom to topple Heritage 14-9 for the Falcons’ first victory of the season.
Lee’s run with 3:57 left in the third quarter would end up being the only points of the second half, as Freedom’s defense held off multiple Heritage drives into Falcon territory, none more important than the Patriots’ final possession of the night, which ended with quarterback Trevor Moorman diving for the first-down marker at the Freedom seven-yard line with under two minutes remaining. Whether Moorman reached the sticks or not was going to be debated and depend on the spot, but the ball popped out and up into the air as him and a Freedom defender were headed for the ground, recovered by another Falcon and ruled a live fumble by the officials.
“That last stop by the goal-line will be remembered for a long time by these kids,” said Freedom coach Andrew Cotter, whose team had been involved in numerous narrow losses previous to Friday night. “I was just happy with how our boys kept fighting. We have had a few games this season which were similar to Friday night that we lost. It was great to see them get it done in the final few minutes. The defense did an amazing job bending but not breaking.”
With the win, Freedom improved to 1-7 overall, 1-2 in BVAL play, heading into next week’s game against Antioch. Heritage fell to 2-6 overall, 1-2 in league play, and heads to league-leading Pittsburg next Friday.
Around the NCS
Fortuna shook up the expectations surrounding the HDN-Big 4 title race and playoff races with its 22-14 win over Eureka on Saturday night. The Huskies stunned a Eureka Homecoming crowd when Daedan Taylor found Max Hough for a 10-yard touchdown pass on third-and-goal with nine seconds remaining, breaking a 14-14 tie. The win comes after Fortuna went winless in league play last season (though they went on to win the NCS Division 4 title), and hands Eureka its first loss in league play since 2016. Click here to read the full game story by Andrew Butler of the Eureka Times-Standard.
Bobby Williams threw four touchdown passes to lead Kennedy-Richmond past Saint Mary’s, 60-3, in TCAL-Rock action on Friday night. The Eagles bounced back from their first loss of the season in commanding fashion, as Camron Young also hauled in two touchdown passes and returned a punt for a score.
Osaro Aihie ran for 187 yards and two touchdowns on 17 carries as San Leandro stormed past Castro Valley, 48-28, to remain unbeaten in WACC-Foothill play and set up a showdown at Encinal this coming Friday night for the league title.
Matt Meredith threw for 401 yards and two touchdowns while rushing for another 89 yards and two scores to lead Miramonte past Millennium-Tracy in non-league action, 48-7. Aidan Browne added three rushing touchdowns, while Reed Callister had seven catches for 231 yards and a pair of scores.
Livermore blanked Dougherty Valley, 28-0, to reach its best win total this century.
Berean Christian beat Mt. Diablo, 28-18, for the Eagles’ first win this season.